For many people with COVID-19, fatigue is a fairly common symptom. It can make you dull and tired, rob you of your energy, and undermine your ability to get things done. Depending on the severity of your COVID-19 infection, it can last from 2 to 3 weeks. But for some people with severe infection, fatigue and brain fog-like pain can linger for weeks or months. This can last even after your COVID-19 infection is gone.
What does COVID fatigue look like?
When your body is fighting a viral infection like COVID-19, you may feel very tired and have trouble concentrating. It’s the tiredness.
Depending on the severity, symptoms of fatigue can range from:
- Chronic fatigue or drowsiness
- Aching or aching muscles
- Muscular weakness
- Slow reflexes and responses
- Poor decision-making capacity
- Bad mood and irritability
- Poor eye-hand coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced immune system function
- Blurred vision
- Short-term memory problems
- Poor concentration
- Inability to pay attention to the environment or the current situation.
- Low motivation
COVID and long-distance fatigue
Experts say that up to 30% of people who have caught COVID-19 infection around the world have developed symptoms of COVID that last for weeks or months long after the virus has disappeared from the body. Doctors call this condition long-haul COVID-19 or long-haul COVID-19. Many people struggle with ongoing chronic fatigue, or “post-viral fatigue”. Symptoms can include brain fog and pain. Researchers note that about 7% of people with mild to severe COVID-19 may experience long-term symptoms.
A study of 143 people with severe COVID-19 found that 87% of participants still suffered from continuous fatigue 2 months after their initial hospital admission. In milder cases, fatigue can last 2-3 weeks from the time you test positive for COVID-19.
While experts aren’t sure exactly what causes long-lasting fatigue and long-lasting COVID-19, some researchers say the body’s natural response may be disrupted after coming into contact with certain types of infection. They believe fatigue from a long COVID is similar to symptoms of a complex disease called myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME / CFS).
What Can I Do To Manage COVID Fatigue?
Fatigue can drain your energy and prevent you from doing day-to-day things when you have a viral illness like COVID-19 or long-haul COVID-19.
To manage your health and relieve symptoms of fatigue while you are sick or post-COVID, you should:
- Accept that fatigue is a real side effect of COVID-19.
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. It can help your body to conserve energy.
- Try relaxation techniques like mindful meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, and tai chi. These can help reduce symptoms of stress and fatigue.
- Plan ahead what you can do with limited energy.
- Prioritize the tasks that are important. It will help you spend energy only on the things that need to be done.
- Delegate some tasks to others who can do them for you. This can include activities like shopping for groceries or cooking.
- Try to stay active. A viral infection can cause you to lose energy, but getting moving and light exercise can energize you.
- Keep a journal of all the things that trigger or make your fatigue worse. This will help you avoid energy intensive activities.
- Eat foods that give your body energy.
- Stay hydrated.
When should I see a doctor about COVID fatigue?
If you have had COVID-19 and notice that your symptoms of fatigue last for more than 2 to 3 weeks, it is best to let your doctor know.
See your doctor if:
- Your fatigue gets worse rather than better.
- Your symptoms haven’t changed after 4 weeks.
- You are worried or have other new symptoms.
Experts and doctors are learning even more about the coronavirus that is causing the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the CDC recommends that all people 12 years of age and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible for it to prevent a COVID infection and its symptoms.
Vaccines are safe and effective in preventing and limiting the spread of the virus. If you’ve had COVID-19, wait until the infection is gone before you get one. If you are not sure, ask your doctor.